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Live / stage review

"Effortlessly entertaining and terrific fun": Singin' in the Rain at Sheffield Theatres

During a time that saw Sheffield sweltering as record temperatures hit the country, it seemed fitting that Singin’ in the Rain washed into the Lyceum Theatre this week.

20 July 2022 at
Sam Lips and Charlotte Gooch in Singin' in the Rain

During a time that saw Sheffield sweltering as record temperatures hit the country, it seemed rather fitting that Singin’ in the Rain washed into the Lyceum Theatre this week. Based on the classic film and set in 1927, it tells the story of Don Lockwood, a Hollywood silent movie star, who is paired with his co-star, Lina Lamont, a terrible diva with an awful speaking and singing voice that, shall we say, is perfect for silent films. The studio publicity would have the public (and Lamont, as it happens) believe that the two are in love, but that’s not quite the case as far as Lockwood is concerned. However, there are bigger concerns as with the arrival of talking pictures, the decision is made to turn their latest film into a movie musical, despite the fact that their biggest starlet does not exactly have the talent for the role. So Lockwood and his lifelong friend, Cosmo Brown, come up with the idea of secretly dubbing Lamont’s voice with the dulcet tones of struggling actress, Kathy Selden. As Lockwood falls for his secret co-star and Lamont’s brattish behaviour escalates, what could possibly go wrong?

As with many shows of this ilk, whilst the story may be thin, the plot predictable and the conclusion of the will they / wont they romance almost inevitable, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and whilst Singin’ in the Rain may offer an old fashioned, if at times rather twee, piece of musical theatre, it still has the ability to be effortlessly entertaining and terrific fun.

Sam Lips and Charlotte Gooch in Singin' in the Rain

Sam Lips was very charismatic as Don Lockwood and on a number of occasions during the show proved himself to be a “triple threat” – an actor who can sing, dance and act. He was ably supported by audience favourite Ross McLaren in the role of Cosmo Brown, who looked like he was enjoying every second of his time on stage, and by Jenny Gaynor as Lina Lamont, who managed to steal a few scenes of her own and who has perfected the most annoying nasal twang.

The big production numbers were very well choreographed, with an abundance of terrific tap numbers, dreamy ballroom dances and a bit of vaudeville and slapstick thrown in, and whilst it was not the tightest dance ensemble I have come across, the musical numbers were performed with such enthusiasm and aplomb that any minor issues were easily forgiven.

The current tour has a lot to offer. With a set design that made the most of the Lyceum stage, Jonathan Church’s direction utilised every inch of the performance area, keeping the framing of the scenes and the dance numbers fresh and interesting. There was also a lovely look to the production, with a deep, vibrant colour palette used for the set, lighting and costumes that was reminiscent of the richness and warmth of the old Technicolour pictures, and some terrific costume designs.

There are some gems of songs nestled within this musical, with “Good Morning” and “Make ‘em Laugh” being amongst the most familiar, but there is, of course, one iconic number that the audience waited for, and as the opening bars of the titular song rang out and the rain poured from the stage roof, you could almost see the audience lean forwards in their seats in anticipation. Whilst comparisons with the iconic film scene are absolutely unavoidable, it is fair to say that Sam Lips did the scene justice with a relatively faithful recreation that didn’t disappoint the audience in the slightest.

As a stage show, Singin’ in the Rain is a very accurate adaptation of the film, that is respectful to its source material, which, in reality, is what appeals to the audience. It’s a well-rounded modern production of a distinctly old fashioned musical, and for an evening of nostalgic entertainment, you would be hard pressed to find a better production at the moment.

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